It wasn’t that long ago that meetings were mainly held in person. Much to the dismay of many web designers (myself included), remote conferencing has not been widely accepted by clients. What a difference a few years make.
Gatherings were slowly leaning towards remote platforms. Then the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. Suddenly, Zoom and similar providers were the best choice. These days, you’re more likely to conduct a meeting from your living room than from a client’s office. No complaints here.
Remote meetings not only keep us safe from viruses, but also save a lot of time. No more tedious travel and missed emails to answer.
However, there is a price to pay for this level of convenience. Remote meetings can be awkward and full of interruptions. Some technically challenged clients may not have mastered the basics yet (Ahem, please turn on your microphone).
Wondering how to get the most out of this brave new life? Read on for some tips to help you hold productive remote meetings.
Find a Quiet Place
Technology allows us to connect to a video conference from almost anywhere. But it’s still important to choose your site wisely.
Ideally, you’ll find a quiet, distraction-free place to connect from. After all, it’s hard to be productive in a chaotic environment. Background noise, people moving around behind you, animals and children seeking attention – they are all obstacles to getting things done.
This means avoiding busy public places such as coffee shops or crowded outdoor spaces. There are too many opportunities for something to go wrong. Plus, it’s a bit unprofessional.
If you are working from home, try to find a small place where you can be alone – preferably with a door that you can close. You may not be able to prevent your dog from barking or the doorbell from ringing (therefore, removing the dog), but you can minimize the disturbance.
The fewer distractions, the better everyone can focus on the task at hand.
Set an Agenda
No one benefits from a meeting that goes astray. You know, the ones that take too long and focus on irrelevant material. When they finally come to an end, the feeling is one of relief rather than achievement. And this seems to be especially common in a remote location.
This is where a little planning can go a long way. By setting and sharing a meeting agenda, everyone involved will know what to expect.
Agendas can be very flexible, which is helpful if you’re not the most organized person in the world. You don’t have to plan things to the minute. Even a general outline and estimated time frame will do the trick.
As a host, agendas provide an easy way to keep the conversation on track. When you’ve finished a certain topic, you can glance at the agenda and say, “Let’s move on to the next item.” It is a valuable productivity tool.
Take advantage of Moderation Tools
Whichever meeting platform you choose, it seems that some user moderation tools are included. They allow you to mute participants and give the role of “presenter” to others.
It is important to use these features responsibly. You don’t want to rule the meeting with an iron fist. This is more likely to damage the collaborative process.
Still, they are effective for events with large numbers of attendees. This can prevent people from talking over each other. It’s also a quick way to silence someone’s disturbing microphone feedback or various other noises.
The presenter role is very convenient, as it allows other participants to share their screens. It helps them illustrate their talking points and gets everyone on the same page.
If your meeting starts out as a free-for-all, there are moderation tools to help get things under control. Similarly, you can use them from the start to ensure smooth sailing.
Record for Future Reference
Have you ever come out of an in-person meeting having forgotten some details? That happens even to the most dedicated note takers.
Fortunately, most remote meeting platforms provide recording functionality. This allows you and the other participants to go back and refer to key information.
Recording is very useful for training sessions. There is a lot of information being thrown around, and some concepts may get lost in the shuffle. If a video is provided the clients will have the opportunity to help themselves. It could also save you from getting a panicked email or two.
It is also worth noting the potential privacy concerns associated with the act of recording. Although some platforms will display a notification that a meeting is being recorded, it is still good policy to announce this as well. Better to be safe than sorry.
Get the Most Out of Remote Meetings
The benefits of remote meetings are undeniable. They are better for the environment and your busy schedule. But it still comes down to productivity.
As these types of meetings are often more casual, there is a tendency to lose preparation and focus. The result is a virtual gathering that is scattered and long. That is hardly a recipe for success.
The solution is to mix old school preparedness with the latest technology. Put yourself in a distraction-free environment. Write up a basic agenda that you can use to guide attendees on the right path. And use the helpful tools provided by your chosen platform.
Together, these steps will keep your meetings on track and save you a lot of time. This is how business is supposed to work in the 21st century.